Al Iaquinta acknowledges that Kevin Lee has improved a lot since he defeated him back in 2014, but that doesn’t mean ‘Ragin’ Al’s’ not extremely confident heading into round two.
The lightweight contenders are booked to battle in the main event of UFC on FOX 31, which will take place on Saturday in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. As noted above, it will mark the second time the two have fought, as Iaquinta earned a decision win over Lee at UFC 169, in what was the latter’s Octagon debut.
Well, since then, Lee has gone 10-2 and has established himself as one of the lightweight division’s best. Iaquinta, meanwhile, has been less active, but he’s gone 5-2 since that bout and remains a top 15 ranked 155’er.
Understandably, leading up to UFC Milwaukee, there’s been a lot of discussion about Lee’s evolution into a top contender. While Iaquinta hasn’t outright dismissed that narrative, the veteran fighter is pretty certain he’s going to defeat the “Motown Phenom” again. Case in point, while speaking to MMA Weekly recently, Iaquinta said this:
“I’ve been wrestling my whole life,” Iaquinta said. “As long as I do what I’m supposed to do, I’ll be fine. I stopped all of his takedowns the last time I fought him. He took me down one time, he timed a good takedown when I got a little over confident and I threw a big haymaker and he timed it well and took me down. I don’t see that happening again. If it does, I have plenty of weapons on the ground that no one has seen. I showed a couple of them in the first fight with him but I was inexperienced as far as submissions off my back.”
“…He’s very outmatched with his striking. He’s very stiff on his feet. He’s not smooth. It’s not something that you can really fix. He’s got a long reach that can kind of cover for the mistakes that he makes but I’ve fought against the best of the best.
“I’m just on another level as far as the striking. I think mentally I’m on a different level.”
If you looked at the betting odds heading into this weekend’s fight, then you know that Lee is a sizeable favorite to win this contest. While that’s not all that surprising, considering what he’s accomplished in recent years, Iaquinta has demonstrated numerous times he’s an extremely tough out. Of his four losses, two were by technical submission (being choked out), one was by armbar, and the other one was via decision (to the champ Khabib Nurmagmedov). He also can crack.
Thus, Lee would be wise to not look past ‘Ragin’ Al’.